Photo by Josh Shoemaker
Hurray For The Riff Raff is the moniker for Alynda Lee Segarra, a New York native who, like many teenagers before her, got the traveling bug and decided to do something about it. After leaving home at age seventeen, Segarra hitchhiked across the country before eventually settling in New Orleans. She spent time busking in the Crescent City, but after Hurricane Katrina, she grew conflicted about her situation: was she just profiting from the city’s identity, or was she giving back in some way?
This kind of social awareness spreads to her music too. Hurray For The Riff Raff is now a full-fledged band, and on February 11, they’ll drop Small Town Heroes. It’s the group’s sixth album, and it’s drawing significant attention both for the subject matter and HFTRR’s breakout performance at the Newport Folk Festival in 2013. Segarra doesn’t shy away from political statements; she puts her music on a folk continuum that includes riot grrrl forbears Bikini Kill as much as Woody Guthrie or Billie Holiday. Small Town Heroes borrows liberally from these influences, with the band favoring intimate Americana touches more than go-for-broke choruses. “End Of The Line” taps into these roots, swaying between an upbeat Cajun shuffle and a downcast country ballad. It’s less strident than the statement songs on the record, but it’s no less compelling. Whatever the subject matter, Segarra’s voice rings clear and true, hitting the sweet spot between old and new.